Seven hospitals in the State of Israel, as well as the only emergency medical centers located in Jerusalem, are expected to continue operating in Shabbat mode and impose their partial strike. The government has failed to make any transfers of funds to the independent hospitals in the country.
The hospital directors affirmed that they would continue with their strike until their demands are met. The directors of the hospitals released a statement in which they called out the Health and Finance Ministries, criticizing them for only issuing a letter to the hospital heads. They said that sympathy does not pay employees and suppliers, and therefore the hospitals need funds, not ‘nice words’.
The statement demanded that the health minister, who manages the health system in the country, and the finance minister, who is responsible for the Treasury, can hold up their end of the agreements, in order to resolve the crisis right away.
On Wednesday, the ministries together wrote a letter to the hospitals, showing gratitude for the services they had provided, in light of the pandemic. The letter further informed the directors that the relevant officials were working together to ensure that the situation could be rectified, as soon as possible.
The strike was launched earlier on Wednesday, with the directors claiming that they were owed an amount around NIS 300 million by the Israeli government. As of now, the hospitals are only catering to lifesaving and emergency needs, meaning that they are in ‘Shabbat mode’. This entails that they are not allowing doctors to see any patients previously scheduled to come in for nonurgent elective surgeries. Visitors are also being turned away and asked to go to outpatient clinics, instead.
In addition, the President of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center, which is located in Jerusalem, Prof. Jonathan Halevy, stated that if nonurgent patients require care, then they need to visit other hospitals, perhaps in Tel Aviv.
The harsh statement was released by the hospital heads only hours after it seemed that the issue would be resolved. In the early hours of Wednesday, Nitzan Horowitz, the health minister, had tweeted that the representatives belonging to Finance and Health ministries were consistently trying to figure out how to solve the issue. He added that marathon discussions had been held for two days straight to come up with a solution. His tweet was concluded by the health minister assuring that agreements will be reached before the day ends.
However, no funds were transferred. The Director General of the Health Ministry, Prof. Nachman Ash, contacted one hospital head and said that he is making significant efforts to make sure that the issue is resolved as soon as possible.
Hospitals have made it clear that they will not be resuming full operations until and unless the funds are present in their bank. Sources revealed that Avigdor Liberman, the finance minister, placed blame on the Health Ministry, saying that the money had been handed over to the officials of the ministry, but not passed on to the hospitals.